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SBI moves SC seeking extension of time till June 30 to submit details of Electoral Bonds

New Delhi: The State Bank of India (SBI) has moved the Supreme Court seeking an extension of time till June 30 to submit details of Electoral Bonds to the Election Commission of India.
SBI in its application said that it needs extra time to disclose details of electoral bonds encashed by political parties.
There are certain practical difficulties with the decoding exercise and the timeline fixed for it, said the bank.
On March 15, the Constitution bench of the Supreme Court asked the SBI to furnish details of the political parties that received Electoral Bonds since April 12, 2019, and all the particulars received and submit them to the Election Commission of India by March 6.
In the application seeking an extension of time, the SBI said due to the stringent measures undertaken to ensure that the identity of the donors was kept anonymous, "decoding" of the Electoral Bonds and the matching of the donor to the donations made would be a complex process.
The retrieval of information from "each silo" and the procedure of matching the information of one silo to that of the other would be a time-consuming exercise, it stated.
"It is submitted that details of purchases made at the Branches are not maintained centrally at any one place, such as the name of purchaser/donor which could be tallied with Date of Issue, Place of Issue (Branch), Denomination of Bond, Bond Number. The data related to the issuance of the bond and the data related to the redemption of the bond were kept recorded in two different silos. No central database was maintained. This was done so as to ensure that donors' anonymity would be protected," it added.
The bank told the apex court that donors' details were kept sealed at some branches. They were later deposited in the main branch of the applicant bank, located in Mumbai, it added.
The timeline of three weeks fixed by the court in its judgement dated February 15 would not be sufficient for the entire exercise to be completed, said the bank, adding that, therefore, an extension of time is granted by the court in order to enable the SBI to comply with the judgement.
The Supreme Court had struck down the Electoral Bonds Scheme which allowed for anonymous funding to political parties, and ordered the SBI to stop issuing Electoral Bonds immediately.
A five-judge Constitution bench of Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud and Justices Sanjiv Khanna, BR Gavai, JB Pardiwala and Manoj Misra had unanimously quashed the Electoral Bonds scheme as well as amendments made to the Income Tax Act and the Representation of People Act which had made the donations anonymous.
It had asked SBI to furnish details and the details about each electoral bond encashed by the political parties, which shall include the date of encashment and the denomination of the electoral bond.
The apex court had said that by March 13, the ECI shall publish the details of Electoral Bonds on its official website.
An Electoral Bond is an instrument in the nature of a promissory note or bearer bond which can be purchased by any individual, company, firm or association of persons provided the person or body is a citizen of India or incorporated or established in India. The bonds are issued specifically for the purpose of contributing of funds to political parties.
Various petitions were filed before the top court challenging amendments made to different statutes through the Finance Act 2017 and Finance Act 2016 on the ground that they have opened doors to unlimited, unchecked funding of political parties.

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